My Uncle Jim

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I must give you a little insight to my Uncle Jim.  I am sure that I do not know him as well as his children but he was my uncle and he was a great person.  My uncle Jim worked very hard and even though he was the owner and manager of three profitable businesses.  He understood that it was his job to do everything possible to save costs and increase profits.  I learned a great deal from my Uncle Jim and I can credit him with providing me a role model to follow.  I credit some of my success to my Uncle Jim for without his examples I may not have been who I am today.

I should share one more item.  My Uncle Jim had four brothers.  They were Sam, Don, Charles and Leonard.  Each of my five uncles played very important roles in my life.  One of the greatest items I understood from this band of brothers was the importance of family.  Each of them were ready willing and able to assist each other.  They shared the knowledge they had learned with each other.  They stood together and each brother was a success in their separate lives. I was a very lucky nephew to be blessed with five wonderful uncles.

Well back to my Uncle Jim.  One of my special memories of my Uncle Jim occurred during the summer in the hot Sacramento sun.  I and my cousins were swimming in the pool just to keep cool from the heat when my Uncle Jim returned from work and without taking off his business suit, jumped into the pool.  Another time I arrived at my Uncle Jim’s home and found him in the back yard painting frames for mirrors.  He had some of the frames hanging on the back fence and he was painting the frames with a base coat of white.  When dry he would then apply a gold flake to sections of the frames.  When this had dried he would hang up more frames and start all over again.  This little project saved him money when he used the mirrors in his business.  My Uncle Jim is a wonderful person and I love him dearly.

Here is a photo of my Uncle Jim.  It was provided to me by his son with the caption below.

My Uncle Jim


The Hollister Record: The Hells Angels from San Jose, California, led by Jimmy “The Stallion” (John’s Uncle Jim) and the Black Hand Gang, came to Hollister on Friday afternoon and seized the entire town. The Hollister Police Department was undermanned and not ready for this invasion of hundred of wild Italians who rode in on their Harley motorcycles. They completely took the town by surprise, partied with all the women, drank all the bars dry, and raced up and down the main street in the three day siege. As quick as they came, they left even faster on Monday morning in a cloud of dust and noise, leaving the town vanquished.

The Mayor of Hollister had these words for these crazy marauders; “Wow, Hollister has never witnessed such a wild time in its existence, and would like to thank those motorcycle enthusiasts and is extending an invitation to return next year”.

That’s how Hollister started its motorcycle weekend gala in 1954, and now, you know the rest of the story.

Here is another photo


Grandma Mary

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The drive to my Grandma Mary’s was done in silence. It was a short drive compared to the drive to the rest home. Once there we would knock on the door and enter the house. Seeing my dad’s mother we would greet her with hugs and the word “chow” which mean hello in Italian. Grandma’s English was not very good, but her hugs, kisses, and the glow on her face said it all. It was normally close to lunch time but the time did not matter. Once inside the house and right after our greetings Grandma Mary would call out to my Uncle Jimmy G to come and visit.

At the same time we would sit at the table and my Grandmother would bring food for my dad and I to enjoy. Sandwiches, soup, and pasta anything and everything could appear on the table. My dad would speak to my Grandmother in Italian until my uncle entered and said hello. Then we would go through the greetings process again. Eating the items placed in front of you was required or you would insult grandma. I just listened as my dad and Grandma spoke in Italian.

With the visit ending we would say our goodbye’s with lots of hugs and kisses and be on our way to visit my Aunt Grace, my father’s sister. The drive to my Aunt Grace’s house was over almost as soon as we settled into the car seat. There we would visit with Aunt Grace and my Uncle Jim F. The three of them would talk about their parents and how they were getting along with their health.

I am not sure but I think my mom, dad, Uncle Jim F and Aunt Grace had an agreement concerning their parents. My mom and dad took care of my Grandma Jessie and my Uncle Jim and Aunt Grace took care of Grandpa John and Grandma Mary. So based on this understanding these individuals would update each other as to the status of their respective charges. I did not participate in these discussions. Instead and depending on whom might be at Uncle Jim and Aunt Grace’s home I would visit with one of my four cousins.

Once the visit with my uncle and aunt concluded my dad and I would say our goodbyes and head to the car. The drive home was a little over two hours and this allowed us time to talk. We talked about how well my Grandpa John looked, how nice my Grandma was and how enjoyable Uncle Jimmy was and what help he was for my Grandma.

We would also discuss my father’s desires about his medical treatment in his golden years. I would listen and ask questions just to make sure I understood. I did not know this at this time but these trips would aid me later in life. They aided me with the decisions about his sudden illness. It was that incident that allowed my father to depart this life. He was happy feeling he had done everything he could for his children. He was on his way to his beloved wife, his Rose, my mother.

Those talks helped me in discussions with my wife who was seriously ill for a period of 12 years. I would listen to her and about how she wished to pass this life. I would hold her and try to be a comfort for her. I would ask her careful questions, just to make sure I understood her wishes. Yes, my father prepared me for the passing of my wife, my Monica. Two months after my father’s passing, my love, my wife of 38 years, my best friend for over 44 years, my Monica passed away from this life.

I had been prepared and trained for the passing of my wife, by my Father.

My Grandfather John

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I wanted to write a story about my Grandfather John, but this is very difficult for me. I did not know my Grandfather John very well. He lived in Des Moines Iowa and I lived in San Jose California. He and his wife Mary moved to Sacramento California after he retired and after he suffered a major health problem that almost ended his life. The move to Sacramento California was a good idea because his daughter, my Aunt Grace, and his son, my Uncle Jim, lived in Sacramento.

His oldest son, my father Frank, lived in San Jose California just 110 miles away. My family, Frank and Rose, could and did drive to Sacramento many times to visit my Aunt Grace and her husband, my Uncle Jim. Before my Grandparents, John and Mary moved to Sacramento the families of Frank and Rose, Jim and Grace visited each other often. My dad, Frank, was the brother of my Aunt Grace. My mom, Rose, was the sister of my Uncle Jim. In addition to these family ties each set of parents had four children consisting of two boys and two girls. The eight children were close in ages with cousins just about one year apart. (see below for the family chart)

However, by the time my Grandfather, John and Grandmother, Mary moved to Sacramento California I was married and starting a family of my own. All I knew about my Grandfather John was what my father, his son Frank, told me about his father. I knew that my Grandfather John was born in Italy and that he was poor. Prior to immigrating to the USA he was a field hand that cared for sheep, goats and cows. He was from southern Italy in the province of Calabria and the very small town of Terraivecca. In Italy he was called by the first name, Batista, which denoted John the Baptist. In the USA he was known instead by the name, John.

Once in the USA he found work as a cement finisher working on roads throughout the USA. He lived in Des Moines, Iowa and would travel to the road sites. He was away from his home working for days, weeks, and sometimes months. However, his family received most of his pay and along with their home garden survived the great depression. He was a good man with the hope that one of his grandchildren would graduate college. My father knew that I would never be able to make a living with my hands so he always told me to study hard and get a good education. That way I could attend college and work with my mind instead of my hands. I thank my Grandfather John for his dream that his grandchildren go to college. Without the dream of my Grandpa I may never have had the desire to attend and graduate college.

My dad told me that my Grandfather John fought in the First World War. He was a member of the Italian army. Grandpa John did not talk about the war. He did not like to be in a car when it was being filled with gasoline due to the smell of gasoline. I was told that the smell of gasoline reminded him of the smell of the gas used to kill troops in the First World War. We never filled the car with gas if Grandpa John was in the car.

I remember that I did visit my grandparent’s house but that memory confused me. The reason for the confusion is due to the fact that as a child I never visited Des Moines Iowa. Yet I remember visiting a house with a big backyard. And in the middle of that big yard was a very large chicken coop. I can still remember seeing my grandma Mary enter the coop and check for eggs or find a plump bird for dinner. I wish I could remember more.

I also remember that my Grandfather John was not a very tall man. However, he was a very strong man with a large chest and a small waist. He had a smile that always warmed my heart and he never had a cross word for me on his lips. I love my namesake Grandpa John.


Family chart.


My Grandpa Sam and Grandma Jessie (the F Family)

Had seven Children





James – married Grace; My Uncle Jim and Aunt Grace

Rose – married Frank; My father and mother


My Grandpa John and Grandma Mary (the G Family)

Had three Children

Frank – married Rose; My father and mother

Grace – married Jim; My Uncle Jim and Aunt Grace


My Uncle Jim and Aunt Grace (an F family)

Had four Children

Anna Jean




My dad Frank and my mom Rose (an G family)

Had four Children





Aunt Grace

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My Aunt Grace

I want to tell you about my Aunt Grace!  She is a lovely woman who imparted a great deal of knowledge to this young boy.  My Aunt Grace is married to my Uncle Jim and is the sister of my father Frank James.  Her mother and father were my Grandparents, John and Mary, who emigrated from Italy.  She had a younger brother my special Uncle Jimmy.  She is the mother of four wonderful cousins, Anna Jean, Leonard, Janet and Gary.  She is to me someone who not only loved me but someone who loved to teach and guide me in my early years.

My first memory of my Aunt Grace was the day my Mom and Dad drove to Monterey, California for a visit.  I remember that the drive from San Jose California was long and I am sure I must have asked many times if we were there yet.  When we did arrive I remember a very long driveway with a beautiful house on my right and giant eucalyptus trees on my left.  Upon entering the house we were greeted by both my Aunt Grace and my Uncle Jim.

Hugs and kisses for everyone and we settled down to talk.  I was very young at this time but I remember that my oldest sister and my cousin Anna Jean went off to play.  I was just a little older than my cousin Leonard but we were happy to play together.  I loved the house in Monterey with its quaint charm and the wonderful smell of eucalyptus in the air.  I remember that Leonard and I were playing outside by the giant eucalyptus trees when I feel down and skinned my knee.  I think it hurt so bad that I went into the house crying.

It was my Aunt Grace who came to my rescue.  She rolled up my pants and looked at my skinned knee.  She then assured me that everything would be alright.  She cleaned my “boo boo” and applied some antiseptic to the damaged skin.  Aunt Grace called me Johnny and gave me another hug and kiss.  I was much better after that first aid treatment and my aunt had touched my heart.  I went outside and continued playing.

My Aunt Grace was a great cook.  I just loved her special meals.  Christmas Eve was outstanding with her crab Chioppino.  I also remembered that she made each house a home for her family.  Her family moved from Monterey and the next house I remember was a giant older home in Lodi California.  This house had a giant porch that covered not only the front of the home but one side of the house as well.  I remember sitting outside on the porch talking with my aunt Grace during a rain storm.  It was wonderful to hear my aunt talk and see the rain fall and yet be protected from the rain by sitting on the porch.

The next time I visited with my aunt Grace her family had moved to Sacramento California.  They had a wonderful home with a giant kitchen.  No matter how early I would rise in the morning as soon as I entered the kitchen I would be greeted with a good morning by my aunt.  It was at these times early in the morning that we had some of the best talks.  We talked about her early days as a sister to my father; we discussed growing up and the importance of family.  We talked about current events, impacts to the family, and what should make people happy.  We had long talks when my Grandfather was placed into a rest home.  We talked about my plans to get married.  There was nothing that I could not talk to my aunt Grace about.

Aunt Grace is a wonderful woman, who is a devoted wife, dedicated mother, and someone who truly knows how to spoil grandchildren.  I have always enjoyed my visits as well as just thinking about this lovely lady.